Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Day #11--Last Day of Book Tour

Today was an all drive-by day, no event signings scheduled.

I tell you, I question the wisdom of sleeping on my brother's couch vs. a bed in a 5 star hotel. Though I didn't get to enjoy the facilities at any of the hotels, they sure had nice beds.

My brother has a lumpy couch. Plus he's got one of those hairless Japanese dogs that heats up to about 120 degrees and likes to sleep on people's heads. Not the best night of sleep I've had on tour.

I woke up early, took the dog off my face, and began the drive-bys:

Borders in Tukwila, signed 3 hardcovers and 8 paperbacks.

Barnes & Noble in Tukwila, signed 4 hardcovers and 5 paperbacks.

Waldenbooks in Tukwila, signed 3 hardcoveras and 5 paperbacks.

Borders in Tacoma, signed 4 hardcovers and 15 papebacks, sold 1.

Waldenbooks in Tacoma, signed 2 hardcovers and 5 paperbacks, sold 2.

Whoddunit Books in Olympia, signed 1 paperback, but chatted witht he owner and she'll order many more.

B. Dalton in Olympia, signed 2 paperbacks.

Barnes & Noble in Olympia, signed 2 hardcovers and 10 paperbacks, sold 1.

Barnes & Noble in Lakewood, signed 4 hardcovers and 9 paperbacks.

FINAL TOUR TOTALS---I signed a total of 933 books at 105 bookstores, and passed out 775 signed coasters. I shook hands with over 300 booksellers and hundreds of customers and fans.

FINAL THOUGHTS---After hitting the 100th store, there was no ticker tape parade or round of applause. All I felt was tired, and somewhat overwhelmed. There are over 5000 bookstores in the US, and I'd only visited less than 2% of them. Does that make a difference? Will all of this hard work impact my numbers significantly?

Rather than be satisfied with a job well done, I can only think of the work left to do. I take the red-eye home tomorrow morning, but instead of going home I have an event in Wisconsin that night. Then, a day to play catch up (I'm judging a Writer's Digest contest) and then off to Michigan for a week for more drive-bys during my family vacation.

But I'm happy I hit my goal of 100, and I believe I've impressed my publisher, which is a good thing.

While the publisher sponsored part of the tour has ended, I'll continue touring for the rest of the year, doing events and drive-bys, getting my name out there.

But for the time being, I think I'll have a beer...

Day #10

Leaving the Heathman Hotel was tougher than expected. Not because I was sad to go, but because they somehow had no record of me staying there, making it a bit difficult to check out.

That never got fully straightened out, even though I had plenty of time, because the valet had apparently parked my car in Amsterdam--that's about how long it took to find.

Since I was driving to Seattle, and had a noon signing, I didn't find any of this amusing.

When I finally did get my car back, I broke the land speed record for Chevy Malibus (almost 83mph) and made it to the Seattle Mystery Bookshop with twenty minutes to spare.

There was a big crowd---all there for Jasper Fforde, who was signing with me. I pitched my books to the folks waiting in Jasper's long line and managed to sell quite a few. I also had some actual fans come to see me, which is always nice.

Jasper was a pleasant enough guy, English, polite and quick with the quip. I bought a copy of his latest book. He didn't return the favor.

TOUR TIP #17---When doing a signing with another author, buy their book. This not only supports the bookseller, but your fellow authors.

I wound up signing 30 books, then sticking around and handselling the remainder of my paperbacks before hitting the drive-by trail:

Barnes & Noble on Pine, signed 4 hardcovers, 2 paperbacks.

Borders on 4th, signed 3 hardcovers---they couldn't find my paperbacks (stripped?)

B. Dalton in Factoria Square didn't have any books at all. I introduced myself to the employees and made sure they ordered some (should have phoned first.)

Waldenbooks on Pine, closed a few months ago (phone first.)

Borders in Bellevue, closed last month (dammit dummy, start phoning first!)

Barnes & Noble in Bellevue, 4 hardcovers, 4 paperbacks.

Borders in Redmond, 5 hardcovers, 5 paperbacks.

Barnes & Noble in Woodinville, 4 hardcovers, 3 paperbacks.

Barnes & Noble in Federal Way, signed 3 hardcovers, 4 paperbacks.

Borders in Federal Way, signed 2 hardcovers, 3 paperbacks.

Since my brother lives in Seattle, I decided to stay with him and save the publisher some cash.

TOUR TIP # 18---Try to alleviate some of the publisher's touring expense when you can. I pay for my own food, extra gas, and never charge anything to the hotel rooms.

Apparently, I alleviated more cost than I thought. My publicist emailed, worried because i hadn't checked into the Heathman last night. This told me three things:

1. Your publisher is always watching you while you're touring.
2. My publisher seems to actually care about me.
3. The Heathman is run by a group of trained chimps.

TOUR STATS: I've signed 853 books at 96 bookstores, and have signed and handed out 700 coasters.

The GPS unit I purchased, a Garmin c330, is far superior to the rentalunits I've had. This thing comes prelaoded with 5 million business addresses, and every map in the US. So when I'm driving, I can type in "Borders" and it lists them all within a hundred miles. This is much easier.

Next tour I'll do a lot more driving, hitting stores along the way, and much less air travel, which is expensive, exhausting, and a time waster. Had I driven this entire tour, it would have taken perhaps three more days, but I would have been able to visit 50 more stores. A much better bang for the buck.

Only four more stores to reach the exhaulted 100. We'll see what happens...